Kids and School Illustration

Inca Empire for Kids
Kids & School

Only the kids of nobles (and the royal family) went to school. Kids of commoners learned from their fathers and mothers how to farm and cook and sew and clean.

In the early days of the Inca Empire, if you were born into a farming family, you were pretty much stuck there. Some girls might be chosen to serve in the temples. Some might be selected to serve as servants in noble houses. Talented craftsmen were sometimes able to move into the crafting families or be given a home of their own in the city. But, for the most part, if you were born into a farming family, you remained a farmer all your life.

As the empire grew, the nobles realized they had a problem. The nobles were not large in numbers. Nearly everyone in the Inca Empire was a commoner. That left openings in government. As the empire expanded, there were more management jobs and civil service jobs than there were nobles to fill them.

So, the nobles started a system of testing. Both boys and girls were tested by a sort of an IQ test. Those that passed were sent to school. Graduates became noblemen, lesser noblemen, but noblemen. They served as civil servants, collected taxes, ran villages, and did other things for the government. But still, nearly everyone in the Inca Empire was a farmer.

In the farming communities, when boys turned 14, there was a collective ceremony once per year in each community. At this ceremony, each boy received a man's name, put on a breechcloth his mother had made, and joined the men of the village at a simple feast. The girls had a similar ceremony, but they were given an embroidered gown, a woman's name, and each had their own party. There was no formal education for farm kids. They learned from their mothers and fathers. They began working at a very early age, as young as 3 years old. Actually, they were probably better off with their parents in the fields than they would have been left home alone in those gloomy huts.

Daily Life in the Inca Empire

The Incas for Kids